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22 November 2018

Fine British and European Sculpture

Lot 25

After Giovanni Bonazza

Estimate £1500 - £2000 + fees

After Giovanni Bonazza, (Italian 1654 ~ 1736), a bronze model of the young Bacchus, portrayed as corpulent and nude but for loose drapery across his midriff, asleep and reclining against a wine barrel, his smiling face beneath tousled hair thickly interwoven with fruiting grapevines, a bunch of grapes held in his left hand behind him, a skyphos resting near his feet

25.5cm high, 48cm long



This model, sculpted in white marble and attributed to Bonazza reappeared at auction in London in 2007, and has latterly been described as bearing 'joyful Rubensian carnality, the sarcastic smile, exaggerated to the extent of resembling a grotesque mask'. Cf Christie's King Street, Le Goût Steinitz, III, 6th December 2007, lot 416

The Sleeping Bacchus here has clear antecedents, but perhaps the most obviously comparable are works in oil rather than in the round. A picture by Hendrik van Balen (1575 ~ 1632) held at Brodsworth Hall in Yorkshire (English Heritage) is strikingly similar in its depiction of the chubby god in his youth. The very pronounced fleshiness; the half-closed eyes and sated smile suggestive of inebriated unconsciousness rather than restful sleep; the use of the wine keg as a pillow; the deeply interwoven vine to the hair --in all these ways and more besides, the current bronze is highly corresponding

A Sleeping Bacchus attributed to Giusto le Court (French 1627 ~ 1679) might also have been seen by Bonazza. Towards the end of his life le Court worked in Venice, the city of Bonazza's birth, so it is certainly not inconceivable that the young Bonazza could have seen some of le Court's output there, and his version of the Sleeping Bacchus is certainly related

Bonazza's work proved highly influential itself, with analogous works appearing soon afterwards, with such greats as Clodion producing similar models in the 18th century and Jacques Jaquet (1833 ~ 1875) continuing the theme into the 19th century